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EPICS is used worldwide mostly for controlling accelerators and large experimental physics facilities. Although EPICS is well fit for the design and development of automation systems, which are typically VME or PLC-based systems, and for soft real-time systems, it may present several drawbacks when used to develop hard real-time systems/applications especially when general purpose operating systems as plain Linux are chosen. This is in particular true in fusion research devices typically employing several hard real-time systems, such as the magnetic control systems, that may require strict determinism, and high performance in terms of jitter and latency. Serious deterioration of important plasma parameters may happen otherwise, possibly leading to an abrupt termination of the plasma discharge. The MARTe framework has been recently developed to fulfill the demanding requirements for such real-time systems that are alike to run on general purpose operating systems, possibly integrated with the low-latency real-time preemption patches. MARTe has been adopted to develop a number of real-time systems in different Tokamaks. In this paper, we first summarize differences and similarities between EPICS IOC and MARTe. Then we report on a set of performance measurements executed on an x86 64 bit multicore machine running Linux with an IO control algorithm implemented in an EPICS IOC and in MARTe.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2011